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24751: Hermantin(News)Panel says Florida, Haitian-Americans must act now to save Haiti
leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
Panel says Florida, Haitian-Americans must act now to save Haiti
By CURT ANDERSON
April 11, 2005, 4:16 PM EDT
MIAMI -- As Haiti's interim prime minister looked on, Gov. Jeb Bush unveiled
a report Monday from a Haiti commission he appointed that urged Florida and
its large Haitian-American community to take action now to help the
impoverished, unstable nation.
The 25 recommendations of the Governor's Haiti Advisory Group, Bush said,
``are embedded in the real world. These are doable recommendations.''
Bush and Gerard Latortue, Haiti's interim prime minister, discussed the
report at the launch of a new Haiti pro-business group, the Haitian-American
Chamber of Commerce of Florida. Latortue, who replaced former President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide in early 2004, said government stability is the first
step toward economic development.
``We know we have to put order in the house if we want to go forward,''
Latortue said. ``We are fighting corruption and we want to have good and
sound economic policies.''
Yet outside the downtown Miami hotel where Latortue spoke, about three dozen
protesters chanting ``Latortue must go'' and blowing whistles were a stark
reminder of the fractious political situation in Haiti. The poorest country
in the Americas, Haiti is enmeshed in a political crisis highlighted anew
this weekend when security personnel shot and killed a rebel leader who
helped force Aristide from power.
The advisory panel, named by Bush in September, focused on what Florida and
the estimated 400,000 Haitian-Americans and Haitian nationals living in
Florida can do to help. Its chairwoman, Marie S. Bell, said the state and
its Haitian community are ``perfectly positioned'' to provide assistance
ranging from security to job creation to disaster preparedness.
``What we have in common is we all want to see a better Haiti,'' Bell said.
Among the key recommendations:
Florida state and city police should help train Haiti's national police and
prison officers, possibly including courses at Florida law enforcement
Florida should provide assistance with Haitian elections planned in
November, possibly including observers to ensure they are fair.
Tourism and commerce should be improved through technical assistance to
bolster security at Haitian airports and seaports. A marketing campaign
stressing Haiti's history and natural beauty could entice tourists from
Florida, possibly including cruise lines again.
Experts on reforestation, possibly linked with a state university, should
create a pilot program aimed at halting erosion on hillsides prone to
The U.S. government should revisit its official Haiti travel warning, which
``discourages the flow of both investment and tourism.''
Florida and Haiti should establish both student and professional exchange
Latortue painted a rosy picture of a rapidly improving Haiti, which he said
has no budget deficit, less official corruption and a stabilizing economy in
advance of the planned elections.
``The conditions are set now for Haiti to go forward,'' he said.
Yet the 7,400-member United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti has
increasingly confronted ex-soldiers and pro- and anti- Aristide street
gangs. Some say U.N. forces are unnecessarily shooting people.
More than 400 people have been killed since September in clashes between
gangs, former soldiers, police and peacekeepers.
Copyright © 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel